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Could someone please explain why we can say:

It is time the law reflected this ("dognapping" as a serious crime) in the sentencing of all offenders.

is it the same as:

It is time the law reflects this ("dognapping" as a serious crime) in the sentencing of all offenders.

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    Sentence 1 - It is time the law reflected this... - is correct. Although it uses the past tense it means what sentence 2 says. But sentence 2 is not idiomatic. "It is time" is usually followed by either the past tense or by "for"+subject+infinitive: It is time for the law to reflect this... – Old Brixtonian Jun 2 at 0:02
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    @gotube: Here's one:. Maybe it's pondian. Do you say. "It's time I go home" or "It's time I went home"? – Old Brixtonian Jun 2 at 8:40
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    I don't know of a list, but the past tense is used in hypothetical contexts. I wish and if only: "If only (or I wish) it wasn't raining." "I wish I could join the orchestra." To speak about the past: "If only (or I wish) it hadn't rained." "I wish I could have joined the orchestra." Here and here. (Both at the British Council.) – Old Brixtonian Jun 2 at 10:05
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    [for_subj+inf]: "They called/campaigned/voted etc for him to resign". "It was necessary for him to speak". This usage is very common. You could try Googling "For him to", "For me to" etc. – Old Brixtonian Jun 2 at 10:10
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    @Gottano: Do visit the link in my reply to gotube above btw. – Old Brixtonian Jun 2 at 10:13
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Your original sentence about "dognapping" was very long.
Shorter examples are easier to work with.

  • It is time that the law be enforced.
  • It is time that the law was enforced.

  • It is time that the government was honest in its dealings.
  • It is time that the government become honest in its dealings.

When you want something about the world to change, you also usually wish that the world had been that way in the past.

About the present About the past
It is time that the house be made clean It is time that the house was clean
I would like the house to stop being dirty right now I would like the dirtiness of the house to be a thing of the past

"It is time that the program ended" implies that we wished that the change happened earlier.

"It is time that the program end" does not show whether you wanted the change, or proposed event, to happen in the past, or if you only wanted the change to occur in the present.

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